About the Institute

Authentic Vedic Teachings in Āyurveda & Yoga Since 1978

Our sister organization, Mount Madonna Center, has been well-known for the integrity and excellence of its regularly offered Yoga and Āyurveda programs since 1978. Mount Madonna Institute emerged from that beginning and was officially formed in 2006 to formally train and graduate exceptional practitioners who meet modern standards of practice and education set by professional associations in the United States, including the Yoga Alliance and the National Āyurvedic Medical Association.

History of Mount Madonna Institute

  1. 1971


    Baba Hari Dass (Babaji as he was affectionately called) was a living example of the kind heart, open mind, and productive life that the wisdom teachings of yoga and Ayurveda foster. He was a silent monk, accomplished author and artist, and master yogi who brought the ancient teachings to contemporary students in meaningful ways. He not only inspired Mount Madonna Center and Institute but also Mount Madonna School (PK-12th grade), Salt Spring Center of Yoga and Children's School in British Columbia, and Sri Ram Orphanage and School in Haridwar, India. Babaji passed away in 2018.

  2. 1974


    In 1974, that group formed the Hanuman Fellowship, taking the name of an ancient Indian deity representing service and devotion.

  3. 1978


    In 1978, the fellowship founded Mount Madonna Center, a 355-acre mountaintop property. From the very beginning, Baba Hari Dass taught not only Yoga, but also Ayurveda – and these were the first programs we offered, in the summer of 1978 – at the time a science of health and healing little known in the West. 

  4. 1982


    In the years that followed, a series of pioneers presented Ayurveda programs at Mount Madonna Center – first Babaji, then Dr. Trivedi, Dr. Svoboda, Dr. Lad, Dr. Singh, and Dr. Shrestha. One of the students in one of those first programs (1982) was Cynthia Ambika Copple, who went on to become our founding Dean of the College of Ayurveda. 

  5. 2005


    As the Center proved successful and grew, others also obtained Ayurveda training, and slowly a group came together of people deeply interested in starting a School of Ayurveda. In 2005, that group’s vision and energy were strong enough that the decision was made to form a new Institute, featuring a College of Ayurveda. Approvals were obtained, a substantial loan was borrowed, space was set aside for classes, and intense work began on developing curriculum, faculty, administration, logistics, a website, marketing, and an application to the State of California for approval to operate the Institute and its College of Ayurveda.

  6. 2007


    We received approval from the State of California, and, in January 2007, Mount Madonna Institute was approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to offer degree programs and admitted students to its first College of Ayurveda Diploma Program. Since that first class entered in 2007, we have graduated many classes of Diploma, Certificate (Practitioner), and Masters Degree students.

  7. 2015


    Mount Madonna Institute received Eligibility from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) to proceed with an application for Initial Accreditation!

  8. 2019


    Mount Madonna Institute earned accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

    The College of Ayurveda is also approved by the National Ayurvedic Medicine Association (NAMA) and Mount Madonna’s Yoga Teacher Training is approved by the national yoga registry, Yoga Alliance.

Mission Statement

Integrating Mind, Body & Spirit

Mount Madonna Institute is committed to holistic wellness and positive transformation. We offer graduate education and certificate programs that integrate ancient systems of Yoga and Ayurveda, within community, for contemporary life. Graduates are well prepared for careers in integrative health professions.

Mount Madonna Institute is a private, non-profit educational institution located in virgin redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Small class size and classic Vedic sources foster authentic student learning, integrating theoretical knowledge and experiential education. Distinguished faculty offer a Master’s degree and two certificate programs. Classical curriculum and clinical experience preserve and extend the 5,000 year old science of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest known system of natural medicine and healing systems. The classical system of Ashtanga Yoga, introduced into the West by Baba Hari Dass, informs both practice and philosophy taught by devoted resident faculty.

Mount Madonna Center offers guest services, both meals and lodging, for students. Situated on 380 acres of land, on a mountain top, the campus overlooks Monterrey Bay.

Mount Madonna Institute is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a regional higher education accreditation body. The College of Ayurveda is approved by the National Ayurvedic Medicine Association (NAMA). Mount Madonna’s Yoga Teacher Training is approved by the national yoga registry, Yoga Alliance. Mount Madonna Institute is also affiliated with the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Mount Madonna Institute is also approved by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education.

Mount Madonna Institute Organization

In collaboration with Mount Madonna Institute Board leaders, faculty and staff work together to co-create shared vision and co-design transformative curricula.


Kathleen Savita Brownfield


CFO: Shanti Cruddas

Finance Team: Lila Ansell, Jaya Maxon, & Anne Major

Bursar: Tiffany Olson


Marketing Specialist: Mariah Giunta

Marketing Strategist: Tracey Lin, MPA, MBA

Website: Jennifer Dove

Publicist and Social Media: Mariah Giunta with Annalise DiSalvo and Dana Warsaw


Interim Provost: Mary M. Somerville, PhD

College of Āyurveda - Department Chair: Renee Rossi, MD, MA-Ayurveda

School of Yoga - Department Chair: Ginger Kamalesh Hooven, MA-Ayurveda, E-RYT 500

Research Center: Shraddha Ravani, PGD

Student Services

Registrars: Sean Neesley, E-RYT 500 (School of Yoga), Caitlin Berry (College of Ayurveda)

Clinical Administration: Jackie Christensen, MA-Ayur, PhD

Library Services: Mary M. Somerville, PhD

MMI Board
  • Swarup Wood, PhD, Chair
  • Cathy Purnima Conway, MS
  • Jennifer Rand, YTT 200, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Secretary
  • John Dayanand Diffenbaugh, E-RYT
  • Sarada Diffenbaugh, PhD
  • Dr. Richard Bernstein, DO
  • Mary Champagne, CPA
  • Yolanda Sangita Diaz-Houston, PhD
  • Paula Anima Holtz, PhD, RN, FNP
  • Timothy J. Walsh, JD
  • Mary M. Somerville, PhD
College of Āyurveda Faculty

The College of Ayurveda welcomes Renee Rossi, MD, MA-Ayurveda as the new Interim Chair.

Dr. Renee is a National Ayurveda Medical Association (NAMA) certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and Board Certified, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. She practiced Otolaryngology for over 30 years and served as Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and supervisor of surgical residents at Parkland Hospital, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Instructor in Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School. She has a special interest in trauma and women’s health and co-founded the Texas division of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Dr. Renee has served as a medical volunteer with Cape CARES on multiple brigades in rural Honduras. Her email address is: aychair@mountmadonna.org

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School of Yoga Faculty

MMC Staff & Senior Students of Baba Hari Dass

All of our faculty have been directly trained by Master Yogi Sri Baba Hari Dass, who is affectionately called “Babaji”.

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Academic Catalog

Find all program and course descriptions, calendar dates, admissions info, student's rights and responsibilities, and academic policies.

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Mount Madonna Center

Campus & Facilities

The Institute is located at and hosted by Mount Madonna Center's beautiful Conference and Retreat Center. The setting offers an ideal environment for learning and exploring within the context of a 40-year-old residential community dedicated to the principles and practice of Yoga. Students have the opportunity to directly connect, not only with residents, faculty, and other student body, but with the natural world that informs the foundations of Āyurveda and yoga philosophy. Our campus is currently closed until September 2021.

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